Top Ten Korean BLs (2020-2022 Edition)

Creating a top favorites list has always been hard for me. How I feel about a drama depends mainly on my mood when watching. So, I generally hesitate to number my lists. Therefore, to put together my top ten favorite Korean BLs from 2020-2022, I revisited my Twitter posts, taking note of the ones that left me reeling enough to spill my feelings into the Twitterverse. Considering the amount of BLs South Korea released over the last few years, narrowing them down was no easy task, but certainly a lot of fun to revisit.

Welcome to my top ten Korean BLs. Not only did these give me a lot to talk about, but I’ve included what I said about them online during their release. Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

To My Star

The story: A love story between a declining actor, Kang Seo Joon, and a chef, Han Ji Woo

My thoughts while airing:

To My Star does a fantastic job of highlighting the vast divide between the rich and poor, between those living in the spotlight and outside of it, while also holding onto love. When it first aired, it was intimate in a way we hadn’t seen from the Korean BL mini-dramas thus far, not just in the physical sense. From their down-to-earth interactions to their emotional entanglements, actor Seo Joon and chef Ji Woo said, “Let’s fall in love.”

To My Star 2: Our Untold Stories

The story: The sequel to To My Star, this drama tells the story of the breakup between actor Kang Seo Joon and chef Han Ji Woo and how they resolve it.

My thoughts while airing:

Watching To My Star 2 is like reading poetry. From the way it’s shot to the hidden emotional depth, it offers a raw peek into the reality of two very different men who aren’t quite sure how to love each other. The best kind of relationships find a way to compromise without compromising identities, and that’s precisely the type of story this drama offers. To My Star 2 gave viewers an imperfect relationship with the right amount of love to carry them. Seo Joon and Ji Woo returned to viewers in a sequel destined to hurt and heal us. These two don’t exactly make sense as a couple, and that’s what makes them so incredibly special.

Light on Me

The story: About a group of student council members, Woo Tae Kyung, Noh Shin Woo, Shin Da On, and Namgoong Shiwoon, it tells how they fall in love and come to terms with their sexuality.

My thoughts while airing:

Light On Me stands out for me amidst the Korean BLs, because it said, “this is me being out and proud,” and then said, “deal with it.” It expressed the difficulties of coming out but also demonstrated loving someone with no inhibitions. It also holds a special place in my heart because of Da On, a character whose coming out reminded me of my own, clouded in judgment, uncertainty, and fear. I love that Da On fell in love with himself by falling in love with someone else, that it led to profound soul-searching moments that allowed him to say “no” when “I’m fine” and “yes” was once the only thing he thought he had the freedom to express.

His growth was everything. Light On Me celebrates what it means to be young and gay, from first love awkwardness to coming out amidst fear. We’ve gotten so used to dividing ourselves into lead and second lead teams as they vie for the main love interest’s affection that we aren’t used to celebrating what it means to cheer for both.

Semantic Error

The story: A love story between neurodivergent computer science student, Chu Sang Woo, and a design major, Jang Jae Young.

My thoughts while airing:

Life has taught me that a person can be as much a safe place for someone else as a person’s surroundings. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Semantic Error. While Semantic Error is essentially an enemies-to-lovers youth drama, it is also a story about breaking down walls. Neurodivergent lead Sang Woo not only allows Jae Young into his safely disciplined life, he begins to rearrange his routine and feelings around Jae Young’s existence. That’s a beautifully intimate thing to watch on screen.

Once Again

The story: A love story between a man with childhood trauma, Shin Jae Woo, and the man he falls in love with, Kang Ji Hoon, when Jae Woo goes back in time to save him.

My thoughts while airing:

A BL story about going back in time Once Again feels like falling asleep and waking up inside a nightmare where you are fighting to stay alive while also falling in love. Jae Woo facing his biggest fear in an attempt to save Ji Hoon is heart-rending. For everyone. While the romance inside Once Again is beautifully shot and told, the real heart of this drama is the past trauma Jae Woo faces. Trauma isn’t an easy thing to overcome. For many, like myself, it’s not possible to move past it, but it is possible to make peace with it. Therefore, the great love story between them isn’t about erasing the pain that brings them together; it’s about embracing it, holding onto it so that the loop of fate that brought them together will continue to do so.

Blueming

The story: A love story between two popular students, Cha Si Won and Hyeong Da Un, as they discover that appearances aren’t everything.

My thoughts while airing:

Blueming is a beautiful vivid story of two people starved for affection and how they realize this. I love that they didn’t need a spoken confession between them. They simply became. They hurt. They comforted. They loved. They stepped into each other’s arms.

And they grew.

Where Your Eyes Linger

The story: A love story between a rich boy, Han Tae Woo, and his bodyguard, Kang Gook.

My thoughts while airing:

Where Your Eyes Linger truly set the foundation for how the mainstream Korean mini BLs are done. Centering around a young man who falls in love with his bodyguard, Where Your Eyes Linger offers viewers an emotional story about the trust and ease that develops between two people before they’re torn apart by jealousy and homophobia.

My Sweet Dear

The story: A love story between two chefs, Choi Jung Woo and Yoon Do Gun, as they vye for the same position.

My thoughts while airing:

The true beauty of My Sweet Dear is in how they resolved it. While candid communication is essential, sometimes the heart understands us better. These were two men who needed shaking up to discover who they were and what they were capable of, one to step up and the other the push to move forward.

The Tasty Florida

The story: A love story between a part-timer, Seo Hae Won, and a chef, Baek Eun Kyu, working at the same restaurant.

My thoughts while airing:

The most powerful thing in The Tasty Florida for me is Eun Kyu. His lonely persona and pining feelings create a thick tension that’s hard to ignore. His need not to hurt his friend by denying himself, but his honesty when drunk contradicts each other in a complex heartrending way. From beginning to end, I also love how Seo Hae Won attempts to capture in his memory every moment with the man he’s falling for. As if time stands still every single time Eun Kyu steps into his space.

Wish You

The story: A love story between a free-spirited singer, Kang In Soo, and Keyboardist, Yoon Sang Yi.

My thoughts while airing:

Wish You explored a burgeoning same-sex relationship amidst the often unforgiving Korean music industry. By pairing the awkward Yoon Sang Yi with the man he fanboys over, Kang In Soo, Wish You gave viewers a romance about two people who dared it all for the music they love and each other.

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One thought on “Top Ten Korean BLs (2020-2022 Edition)”

  1. Semantic is my #1 by far- so rewatchable and well done in every area. The script in To My Star 2 was repetitive and unimaginative- the biggest disappointment of the year so far- the directing and acting is top notch- director is a star who has done most of my fave Korean BLs- Blue Ming really packs a punch in its short run tiime.
    Forgot about Tasty Florida and never heard of Sweet Dear- will have to give those a watch:)

    Like

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